Israeli tanks reportedly reach center of Rafah

The armor has been spotted near Al Awda mosque, witnesses told Reuters

Israeli tanks have reportedly reached the center of Rafah as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued its operation in the Palestinian city on Tuesday.

The armored vehicles could be seen near Al Awda mosque, a city landmark, Reuters reported, citing witness accounts.

The IDF’s actions in Rafah have attracted widespread condemnation after an airstrike on the city’s Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood killed at least 45 Palestinian refugees on Sunday. Israel initially said the attack had been a precision strike intended to kill senior officers of the militant group Hamas. However, it later blamed “a tragic mistake” in its targeting process for the deaths of civilians.

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Overnight, more strikes pounded the city, residents told Reuters. Rafah has served as a haven for people displaced from all over Gaza since last October, when a deadly Hamas incursion into southern Israel triggered retaliation by the country’s military.

The Israeli government has claimed that a ground operation in the area was required to eliminate Hamas. It pushed forward with its plans despite concerns of foreign nations, including its key ally the US, that it could result in mass civilian casualties.

The operation continues despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to stop its activities in Rafah on Friday. The UN judicial body said Israeli claims that it was taking appropriate measures to mitigate harm to civilians were “not convincing.”

Health officials in Gaza say over 36,000 people have been killed in the Palestinian enclave due to the Israeli offensive. The Hamas raid in October resulted in some 1,200 deaths, while than 250 people were captured as hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

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